Via the Red Deer Advocate: Red Deer woman first in North America to succumb to H5N1. Excerpt:
The Albertan who became the first person in North America to die from avian flu last week was from Red Deer.
The flu victim was a woman in her late 20s of East Asian descent who worked in health care at the Red Deer Regional Hospital. She is believed to have contracted the rare virus during a three-week trip to China in December.
President of the Red Deer and District Chinese Community Society and city councillor Lawrence Lee said Friday his organization has reached out to the victim’s family since the young woman’s death on Jan. 3 to offer any assistance they may require. He said the family of the victim has requested privacy at this time.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday that the avian flu (also known as H5N1) victim visited Beijing from Dec. 6-27 and was a previously healthy adult before coming down with symptoms of the virus during travel on Dec. 27 back to Canada. The woman was hospitalized on Jan. 1 and died on Jan. 3 due to inflammation of the brain and the lining that covers the brain.
The WHO is investigating the case, which has initially puzzled health officials. The most common way to get avian flu is from being in close contact with infected birds, especially poultry, or from visiting a farm, but on her trip to China, the woman stayed in Beijing.
“At this point, nobody knows how she might have contracted that and we’re not aware of any subsequent cases at this time,” said Dr. Digby Horne, Alberta Health Services Central Zone medical officer of health.
Health officials are not providing any personal information about the victim for privacy reasons.
Statistics relating to seasonal influenza in Alberta reduced the number of dead from those flu strains from nine to eight on Thursday, taking away the H5N1 case which had initially been reported in the Central Zone as being related to the seasonal flu.